In recent years the research of sensors with good sensitivity and good selectivity in aqueous medium has been of great interest.1 Chemosensors soluble in aqueous media are very interesting, because of the importance in revealing a number of biological processes, disease states and environmental pollutions.2
2,4,5-Triaryl-imidazoles are versatile compounds with application in medicine, due to their biological activity, and materials sciences, for their interesting optical properties. These properties can be tuned by careful selection of substituents at positions 2, 4 and 5: replacement of the aryl group by a heterocyclic group results in larger π-conjugated systems with improved optical properties for application in nonlinear optics, OLEDs, DNA intercalators, and chemosensors.3
In this communication, we report the synthesis of new phenanthroimidazoles, substituted at position 2 with (hetero)aryl groups of different electronic character, in order to evaluate their photophysical properties and chemosensory ability. The new derivatives were characterized by the usual techniques and a detailed photophysical study was undertaken. The evaluation of the compounds as fluorimetric chemosensors was carried out by performing titrations in acetonitrile and acetonitrile/water in the presence of relevant organic and inorganic anions, and of alkaline, alkaline-earth and transition metal cations.